Noise Abatement Will Be Added To I-581 Valley View Interchange Corridor

Roanoke City Traffic Manager Mark Jamison addresses City Council.
Roanoke City Traffic Manager Mark Jamison addresses City Council.

by Valerie Garner

The Valley View interchange will include a noise barrier that stretches the length from the south ramps of Valley View Boulevard all the way to Liberty Road on both sides of I-581. Mark Jamison, Roanoke City’s traffic manager told council at Monday’s briefing that 336 letters were mailed out to residents along the corridor.

There were only 96 responses. VDOT considers a non-response as a “yes” vote. “That was different than what VDOT told us at the public hearing,” said Jamison. At the time of the public hearing a non-response was considered a “no” vote. Out of the 96 responses 88 were “yes” votes and only 8 “no” votes.

The city was one of those “no” votes. Jamison said they didn’t want barriers disrupting the viewshed at Brooklyn Drive where the Greenway will parallel I-581. “No noise barriers will be built there,” he said.

Barrier stone design options vary in style and texture. They range from 13 to 16 feet high. Colors can also be added to the cement. Jamison said they would have involvement in and review of the options. He estimated that the cost of the barriers would run slightly more than $1 million. The total cost of the interchange ranges from $55 to $60 million.

Developers will select one of two alternatives for the Valley View Boulevard end point after it crosses I-581. It could point to the right towards Brooklyn Drive or straight ahead at Norris Street.

“VDOT is in the process of short listing a design/build contractor,” said Jamison. Contractor selection is expected by fall with construction beginning sometime in 2013. The completion of the interchange as set by VDOT will be by the end of 2015.

As the construction ensues Jamison expects that developers will become more interested in the property. The planning department is continuing engagement with the three neighborhood groups that will be affected. Neighborhood focus groups are revising their neighborhood plans.

Councilman Bill Bestpitch suggested “the color be varied just to make it a little more interesting.” He thought the same color would be boring.

The interchange is not increasing the I-581 noise substantially but the decibels currently exceed VDOT’s noise threshold. The new interchange will reflect VDOT’s standard policy for noise abatement.

When entering Valley View Mall from the south drivers will hit a traffic signal at Valley View Boulevard; Jamison assured Mayor Bowers that there would be no bottleneck with the eight-lane exit ramp. Two left-turn lanes will keep traffic moving.

Bowers said, “I don’t want it to be a tunnel.” He wanted variation of panel placement. Jamison said that the panels would vary with the terrain and distance to residences. There will also be a gap at 10th Street.

Councilman Ray Ferris questioned whether the panels made a difference in blocking out road noise. Jamison said that the 5 to 7 decibel decrease “does make a big difference” and is consistent with VDOT’s threshold.